Sunday, August 01, 2010

Rude Britannia and an Alien Artist

Friday was quite busy: it wasn't just the day the car spectacularly failed it's MOT, but it was also the day I met Caroline Coon and went to see the Rude Britannia exhibition at Tate Britain.
There is lots of it: drawings by Cruickshank, Gillray, Donald  McGill, Jake and Dinos Chapman, paintings by Beryl Cook and Hogarth, a 'wanker' hand on a spring by Sarah Lucas, cartoons by Gerald Scarfe and Ralph Steadman and much, much more.
There was too much Viz, and a lot of the conceptual stuff didn't carry on the threads of the earlier stuff. There was no Oz, no Jamie Reid and I don't think there was any Ronald Searle.
There was no Caroline Coon either!
I couldn't understand why some of the 3D stuff was there and so much 2D stuff wasn't. It seemed like an exhibition curated by a committee who didn't agree with each other about what satire is; but in some ways, it was the more enjoyable for its slightly jumble sale effect, and I definitely felt it was worth more than one visit. Some of the drawing was just so incredibly beautiful that both Caroline and I felt positively inspired.
Definitely my favourite drawings were by Aubrey Beardsley.
I am sure they fit into the category of erotic art but they were actually rather obscene because of their caricature nature, but the way they were drawn was so absolutely brilliant that they were breathtaking.
A lot of people are good at art and good at drawing; they have good ideas and can make entertaining marks on paper or canvas. However, Aubrey Beardsley possessed something extra, something magical. His little black-and-white characters live in a different world where everyone has elegant ankles and titchy well-shod feet, and the lines with which their faces are picked out render even the ugly beautiful; their clothing is exquisite and they are arranged on the page like wild flowers growing on an undisturbed plot.
Some people seem to be plonked on this Earth from a different planet or an alternative universe, and he is one of them.
Out of this world.

1 comment:

Jude Cowan said...

I haven't been to the exhibition, maybe I should. Thanks for the review.